Inside the Battle of Algiers: Memoir of a Woman Freedom Fighter

Inside the Battle of Algiers: Memoir of a Woman Freedom Fighter

Arrest of Zohra Drif (Courtesy of the publisher; CC - Zero)

A talk by Zohra Drif, former vice-president, Senate of the Republic of Algeria

Thursday, March 14, 2019
4:00 PM
Location TBD


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Mme. Zohra Drif, who participated personally in many of the events later immortalized in Pontecorvo's movie The Battle of Algiers will talk about pre-liberation Algeria and what it was like to grow up as a "native" Algerian under France's long and extremely brutal colonial rule of the country. She will share highlights of her quest to join the country's underground liberation movement and then of many of the key liberation actions she took part in, providing essential humanistic background to what is too often viewed only as a story of the battles of male adventurers.

Zohra Drif is a hero of Algeria’s war of national liberation. Born in 1934 in Tiaret, in western Algeria, she studied law at the University of Algiers before joining the National Liberation Front. As a core member of the movement’s armed wing in Algiers, she conducted or supported several high-profile operations that advanced the revolutionaries’ struggle to draw international attention to France’s abuses against the local population and the Algerians’ need for freedom. Ultimately captured by the French and condemned to twenty years of forced labor for “terrorism”, she spent five years in prison in Algeria and France, during which she continued her legal studies and her activism. In 1962, upon her country’s independence, she was pardoned and freed from prison, and was soon elected to Algeria’s first National Constituent Assembly. She co-founded an organization to support youth orphaned in the liberation struggle, and went on to practice as a criminal lawyer in Algiers for several decades. A senator in Algeria’s Council of the Nation from 2001 to 2016, she served as a senate vice president from 2003 onward. In 1962 she married Rabah Bitat, one of the founding architects of Algeria’s liberation movement, with whom she had three children. Today she lives in Algiers and has five grandchildren.

Sponsor(s): Center for Near Eastern Studies